Archive - Jan 14, 2008
BEN WESSEL, A Middlebury College freshman, is helping organize three days of events at the college for Focus the Nation, which is orchestrating a nationwide teach-in about climate change for high schools, colleges and other organizations.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
January 14, 2008
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College next week will host three days of events focused on seeking solutions to the problem of climate change as part of a nationwide teach-in. “Focus the Nation,” which was developed at the college by two professors in their classes, has scheduled discussions at some 1,300 colleges, high schools and businesses.
“In 10 years we either will have succeeded (in the fight against climate change) or we will have failed,” said Middlebury College economics professor Jon Isham, who developed Focus the Nation and sits on its board. “If we have failed it won’t matter, and if we’ve succeeded, we’ll be on our way. So you have 10 years and you can’t give up.”
It was this realization that led Isham’s friend and professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., Eban Goodstein, to hatch the idea two years ago for Focus the Nation.
“At this moment in time, we owe our young people at least a day of focused discussion about global warming solutions for America,” the organization’s Web site declares.
Goodstein came to Middlebury College last year to further develop the concept in a January term class he taught with Isham, in which students began to get the word out about Focus the Nation.
January 14, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MONTPELIER — Addison County lawmakers on Thursday gave mixed reviews to Gov. James Douglas’s priorities for the 2008 legislative session, praising his commitment to “green” energy and new health care reforms but sharply criticizing his proposal to lease the state’s lottery.
Douglas, a Middlebury Republican, outlined his administration’s goals during his annual state-of-the-state address, a 40-minute speech that was interrupted 17 times — 16 times due to applause, and once when Statehouse staff cleared the House chambers of a handful of protesters who had unfurled anti-war banners.
The theme to the governor’s speech was a familiar one: Making the state more affordable to Vermonters who are increasingly feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices and a lack of affordable housing.
“Today, I lay out a series of proposals to achieve prosperity through affordability and to rethink, revitalize and reform the way our state approaches its most pressing challenges,” Douglas said. “By making health care, homeownership and the tax burden more affordable — and by making investments in job creation and our natural environment — our families and our state will prosper.”
Douglas called for:
• Making the state’s health care system more streamlined and inclusive. He suggested, among other things, placing a “prevention specialist” in each region of the state to work with citizens in preventing chronic diseases; and making sure every doctor in Vermont has electronic health information systems by the years 2010.
“I … request that this Legislature make affordable health care the top priority and send me a bill before town meeting,” Douglas said.
January 14, 2008
By ANDY KIRKALDY
FERRISBURGH — A series of fixed and rising expenses that Ferrisburgh selectmen say are out of their control are pushing the board’s spending proposal for the 2008-2009 fiscal year up by almost 13 percent.
Selectmen on Wednesday looked at a final draft budget of roughly $1.47 million that would call for a 12.8 percent spending hike. Unsurprisingly, the largest single spending driver is fuel to keep town trucks running and buildings warm.
Board chairwoman Loretta Lawrence said selectmen would almost certainly adopt that spending proposal at their Jan. 22 meeting. Residents will have the final say by Australian ballot on March 4.
“I don’t see that we can change it … barring any unforeseen circumstances between now and the 22nd,” Lawrence said, while acknowledging the figures are “going to be a shocker for people.”
Lawrence said town office employees estimated that if approved the budget would add about 4 cents to the town’s tax rate, or $40 a year per $100,000 of assessed value.
But, she said, the board has little choice to raise spending from the 2007-2008 level of about $1.3 million. (The face value of the budget was actually about $1.38 million, but that included $78,000 for a land purchase that residents eventually voted against, and the apples-to-apples comparison is based on $1.303 million and $1.47 million.)
“There are some uncontrollable costs,” Lawrence said.
• An increase of almost $21,000 in liability insurance, due in part to an increase in rates and in part to the larger town offices being built.
• An increase of about $14,000 in the town’s Addison County tax bill, which goes to pay for the county court system.